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The Crack Magazine

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The Paper Lantern by Will Burns

What did you do in the great Covid pandemic, Daddy? Well, I didn’t write The Paper Lantern, Will Burns’ wonderfully written lockdown classic, that’s for sure. Like most of us the narrator of The Paper Lantern doesn’t do much. He mooches around his parent’s (empty) pub. Mooches around the surrounding countryside, muses about the state of the world, his past and present relationships and lockdown state of mind. And rather than leading to indulgence and ennui he makes consistently telling points: for instance, sharply noting the results of climate change on his lists of local birds (some of which are no longer resident). He’s great on the fallout from Brexit, the striations of class and how his part of the country has been inured to the worst that the Nasty Party has done beyond the borders of middle England. Although as HS2 begins to ravage the local area, perhaps no longer. At one point I wondered whether this was a novel and not an elegiac, but razor sharp, memoir and then I didn’t care because it was so good. No review, even this one, will do The Paper Lantern justice. Just read it, even if your name isn’t Pete.

The Paper LanternWill Burns – Publ. by Weidenfield & Nicolson - £14.99

Steven Long

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